Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana. This week, we note the likely end of two Wyoming ballot initiatives. Then, we have an update on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. We report on Trulieve’s tax situation. We see there’s litigation over hemp in Maryland. And finally, we remind everyone that Old Bay is seasoning, not pot.
The Equality State does not get a lot of time and attention from The Week in Weed – the last time we reported on news from Wyoming was in 2021. What draws our attention this week? The end of two ballot initiatives involving cannabis: one, a medical marijuana ballot initiative, and the other a change to the law concerning use and possession of cannabis, due to confusion over the number of signatures required. Supporters of the measures thought the 36,000 signatures they gathered were short of the almost 42,000 requirement, so they didn’t submit their application. But, it turns out they needed fewer than 30,000 signatures, so they would have likely met that bar. Of course, now the deadline to submit an initiative has passed, so it seems that only an intervention by the legislature or the courts will save them. And neither of those appears terribly likely.
EASTERN BAND OF CHEROKEE INDIANS
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) voted last month to legalize medical cannabis on their tribal lands. They have now issued their first medical marijuana cards. This doesn’t mean they’re open for business just yet; there’s an issue with how to transport cannabis to the dispensary. It turns out, they need to travel on some state-owned road, and marijuana is illegal in North Carolina. But still, it’s a step in the direction of sales.
Section 280E of the federal tax code prohibits cannabis companies from deducting business expenses from their tax returns, due to the status of marijuana as a Schedule I drug. This means that those companies pay more in federal taxes than other businesses do. Obviously, the cannabis industry would very much like this situation to change. Trulieve, one of the biggest players in the market, has decided to try amending its tax returns and just taking the deduction. According to a news release from the company, Trulieve has filed amended returns for 2019, 2020 and 2021. No word yet on how the IRS will respond.
The law legalizing adult-use cannabis in Maryland put limits on the sales of hemp and other cannabinoid products with THC over a certain potency. Under the law, those items are only available from licensed businesses. This is causing a problem for unlicensed businesses, who had been able to sell the products, but as of July 1 are seeing a significant part of their revenue stream dry up. Now, however, a group of those businesses have won an injunction against enforcement of the law while litigation over the provision plays out in court.
We’ve covered stories of cannabis companies attempting to associate themselves with celebrities and famous brands before, but apparently, we need to send out another reminder. For those of you in the back, this never ends well. The latest company to threaten legal action is McCormick & Company, the makers of Old Bay Seasoning. They were not amused by Crabcakes & Cannabis’ parody sticker displaying an Old Bay container with the phrase 420 BUD. Even if you’re sincerely trying to give a shout-out to a famous brand, remember: one person’s homage is another person’s trademark infringement.
Be well and we’ll see you next week.